were so much opposed to nature; how, in the midst of heathenism and a profligate and depraved idolatry, there sprung up suddenly a pure and elevated morality, a conception of the divine nature, unequalled by the loftiest flights of philosophy; a consciousness of divine mysteries and divine realities till then unthought of; a recognized standard or ideal of human action till then unheard of and unattained ; a sensitiveness of the moral nature which can never be surpassed, and which till then had never been imagined.” ...." The production of that epistle (to the Galatians) as a mere literary effort was a phenomenon not to be accounted for on merely natural principles. The tone of it was out of harmony with the voices of the world. The stream and current of it ran counter to that of the course of this world.”

If it be asked how Paul knew that he had received a divine message, it will not be difficult to point to certain facts in his experience which must have set the matter beyond a doubt. He could not help seeing that his own life contrasted with the lives of both Jews and Pagans; nay, that the contrast was so strong that, turn whither he would, he encountered enmity. And he well knew that the reason of the contrast was his doctrine of Christ Jesus, and him crucified. He found himself “the depositary of a gospel in direct contradiction to the whole world.” How was he to explain his singular position?

Then the strangest contrast separated the life of Saul of Tarsus from that of Paul the Apostle. He became a “new creature” the moment he became a Christian. His own mind must have sought an explanation of this; and surely we are not at liberty to reject rashly his own account of the matter: “I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

He was not indebted to anybody for what he knew of the gospel. He “conferred not with flesh and blood !” “It grew up in his mind spontaneously, and yet wholly in opposition to his own will, and in defiance of his natural bias, and the prejudices of his education.”

Can we find any other explanation of this than that it pleased God to reveal his Son in him?" His theology was not a matter which he had thought out for himself. It shows no signs of growth. It was the same at the close that it was at the beginning of his ministry. Where did he get it? He says it was revealed. Do not all the circumstances favor this view? His consciousness testified that he had been a recipient of divine revelation. We surely should not be required to go back of that. No stronger guaranty could have been given him than that. Taking every thing into accountPaul's early hatred of the Christians—his wonderful conversion--his implicit faith in Christ-his courageous loyalty to him—his sterling character-his heroic endurance of persecution, and withal, the miracles which corroborated his claims it is only the most perverse scepticism which will put the question, whether it is possible that, after all, Paul was mistaken? Assuredly here, if anywhere, there can be no mistake; for here," as Mr. Leathes finely remarks, “we are on the very confines of the supernatural, within ear-shot of the voice of God.”

It can be seen from the basty survey we have given of Mr. Leathes' argument how decided the witness is which Paul bears to Christ. In fact, if the Acts of the Apostles and the four undisputed epistles of Paul were all that were left of the New Testament, we should be able from them to construct the system of evangelical theology.

Not only do these writings represent Paul as the voluntary preacher of a faith which he had embraced on the


best of evidence, but they substantiate his claims to be an accredited ambassador of Christ.

This feature in his character gives the stamp of finality to Christian doctrine, and effectually removes it from the category of things liable to change or open to improvement. We might, indeed, have inferred as much, had Paul not been charged with official authority. For if he had reason to give up a religion of confessedly divine origin, and put his trust in Jesus, we may reasonably infer that we ought to do likewise. If Paul became a missionary of the Christian faith, and if his preaching was confirmed by miracles, then those miracles are no less confirmatory of our faith, though we never witnessed them.

But when, in addition to all this, we are assured that the Apostle spoke as God's ambassador; delivered a message which had been revealed to him; pronounced anathemas on al] who preached another gospel ; it amounts to demonstration, that the gospel as Paul preached it, was meant to be final, and that no one can neglect it or pervert it without running the most fearful risk.

Leaving the question of inspiration altogether out of sight, setting aside all the other parts of the Bible, these epistles make known that an “unalterable deposit had been given to the world.” What this deposit is, what Paul considers it to be, we cannot doubt. A crucified Christ-a risen Christ-a coming Christ—these are the cardinal doctrines of the gospel. To deny them is to part with the gospel, To pervert their meaning is to preach another gospel. If it was ever true that Christ died for our sins, then the doctrine can never be superannuated. The epistles of Paul veto the doctrine of development. To the Romanist, who says the Biblo teaches too little, and to the infidel, who says it teaches too much, to him who supplements it with human corruptions, and to him who weeds out of it all that displeases hiin, to Dr. Newman, and to Matthew Arnold—the words of the Apostle have equal reference, “though he, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto yon, let him be accursed."

In the foregoing remarks it has been our object to make our readers acquainted with the drift of the author under review, rather than to express any opinion respecting the merits of the book.

We will say, however, that we have derived profit from the study of the volume. The author is a scholar in the strict sense of the word, and his book is written in an attractive style.

To be sure, in several points regarding the evidential value of Paul's conversion and subsequent career he crosses the track of previous writers on the subject. A superficial reader might, on that account, think that the book contained nothing new. The thing which we particularly admire in these lectures is the skill with which the author anticipates every conceivable rationalistic hypothesis, thus narrowing the discussion to the alternative of receiving Christianity or doing violence to history.

The appendix to the lectures is exceedingly valuable, consisting of an exhaustive defence of the credibility of the book of Acts against the onslaughts of Dr. Davidson.

Art. VI.Tithes and Offerings : A Treatise on the Princi

ples, Practice, and Benefits of devoting_Portions of our Substance to the Service of God. By C. W. BOABE. Edin

burgh: T. & T. Clark. '1865. The church is ever being called upon, by the providence of God in the progress of his kingdom in the world, to meet new practical issues and to take new and higher positions in view of them. From time to time the old order of things practical is outgrown, and old platforms must be left behind, just as the successive stages of the scaffold used in the erection of some cathedral are one by one left behind by the workmen as the building rises toward completion. And as the wise builder is always found building upon the latest staging erected, so the church, in its work on the great spiritual temple, should always be found building from the highest and latest platform to which God has called her. We carry the figure further, and affirm it equally true of the earthly and the heavenly temple, that the work wrought from a lower level than that already attained by the summit of the walls does nothing in lifting them toward the capstone, and can have at best but a secondary value, if any at all. There are abundant indications on every hand that the providential demand for pecuniary means to be used in the evangelizing of the world is slowly waking the church of the present day to the necessity of taking a great step forward in the matter of Christian giving. From these indications we single out the formation of national organizations for the promotion of enlarged beneficence, as illustrating the general tendency of the times. The British Systematic Beneficence Society was established April 29, 1860. It has for its object, as we learn from its official organ, the Benefactor, “to promote, by the Press, the Platform, and the Pulpit, a sound and scriptural public opinion in favor of, 1st, Conscientious giving to God, Prov. iii. 9, 10, etc. ; 2dly, Proportionate giving to God, Gen. xxviii. 20, 22, etc. ; 3dly, Systematic giving to God, 1 Cor. xvi. 1, 2, etc.” It numbers among its members some of the leading men of the British islands. The Systematic Beneficence Society formed at New Haven, January 19, 1869, was also designed to be a national organization. Its idea originated at the meeting of the American Board at Norwich, Conn., in the autumn of 1868. The Constitution declares that, “its object shall be to promote the practice, among Christians and others, of giving a certain per cent. of their yearly income to charitable objects, having regard to the Divine rule, as God hath prospered them.'” Its president is Hon, H. P. Haven, of Norwich; its treasurer, Moses H. Sargent, Esq., of Boston, and among its supporters are to be found Rev. Prof. George E. Day, of Yale Theological Seminary, President Cummings, of the Wesleyan University, Rev. Dr. Tyng, of New York, and Rev. Albert Barnes, of Philadelphia. But the stately octavo volume of Mr. Boase, issued by the great Scottish religious publishing house of T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, is perhaps one of the best indications of the importance which this subject is assuming in the mind of the Christian public. It contains, under a peculiarly Jewish title, an elaborate discussion of the subject of Beneficence in most of its bearings, ancient and modern. The author we take to be a Church of England Scotchman. His book exhibits the churchliness of the one and the metaphysical proclivities of the other. The Scotchman in him we credit with the thorough scriptural grounding of some portions of the book, and the hosts of inferences ofter so incomprehensible to any one but a metaphysician after the well-known definition of the old Scotch woman. In truth, in undertaking to read his book, it may as well be understood at the outset, that with much reverence for the Scriptures, Mr. B. combines the ability to see as much of the invisible and to gain positive knowledge

« ElőzőTovább »